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Community Stories

35 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

Client Served

Rating: 5

I am a 70 year old female veteran. I am in a power wheelchair, am diabetic, have TBI, PTSD, serious balance issues etc. Obviously not someone that is an "easy case". I tried for about 4 years to get a service dog. Contacted the VA, and every agency that trains dogs that I could find all over the U.S. I pretty much decided to give it one last try when I contacted operation Freedom Paws.
When they told me to come down for an interview I will admit I was terrified they would turn me away. I was/am at a point where a three year waiting list was just too daunting to take on.
I still can't believe they accepted me (part of my PTSD etc makes it really difficult to see any worth in myself). I have been matched with a beautiful soul...a black lab named Tebow. We live almost a thousand miles away and it is not easy.......but it is beyond worth it.
Thanks to OFP and Tebow I am more hopeful about my life than I have been in years.

Review from Guidestar

1 Rey O.

Client Served

Rating: 5

It has been one year since I finished this program. It has made a huge difference in my life. Operation Freedom Paws has an excellent staff of volunteers who really care for their clients. Mary Cortani is very passionate about helping veterans and non veterans who have disabilities that are seen and unseen. This program saves lives; it has saved mine.

1 Writer

Client Served

Rating: 5

Operation Freedom Paws - 4 paws, 2 feet, 1 team. For some strange reason, I thought I would be the team leader. My service dog, Linda, is a Black Lab and a career change dog. Bred to be a guide dog for the blind, she didn’t make the cut--too much personality. Linda can also be a bit demanding. You see, I have multiple sclerosis and I guess you could also call her my caregiver. When I am tired (which happens often), she tells me when to sit down or when to lie down and take a nap. She tells me when I need to get up and start moving around. Linda provides the balance that I lack. She comforts me when my memory fails, which helps me regain my thoughts. Add these things together and I have more confidence in myself. As for me being the team leader, things are much better when Linda is in charge.

Review from Guidestar

Previous Stories
2

Client Served

Rating: 5

I have multiple sclerosis and I am amazed with what Operation Freedom Paws can do with people. They add one service dog and lives are changed. I have found the more confidence I have in my dog, the more confidence I have in myself. Four paws, two feet, one team. Once I realized that I am not the team leader, the easier everything else was. If I am not sure what to do, I have learned to trust the dog.

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

I became a client with Operation Freedom Paws in late 2010. Very shortly after beginning the process I realized that this was going to be much more than dog training. OFP literally saved my life (more than once) in my darkest days. They have brought me closer to my wife and children, and have included me into the OFP family.
With the help of Mary Cortani and her staff I am walking proud and have found a new mission in life- helping others build a new life as a Mentor Trainer with Operation Freedom Paws.

Review from Guidestar

kathywadd

Client Served

Rating: 5

Words cannot express my gratitude for OFP. I received a diabetic alert dog from another agency for 15K and she had no public access skills. OFP took me into their program free of charge in 2015 and today she is a different dog. She has all the behavioural skills necessary to be a service dog. Not only does she alert me to out of healthy range blood sugars, she has also assisted me with recognizing my fatigue due to my Multiple Sclerosis. She has also helped me up after falls and helps calm my anxiety. I am so impressed with the integrity of this non-profit in all areas of their business. They are truly saving veterans and dogs lives everyday. It has become my passion to volunteer for OFP to help others experience this life changing love!





Review from Guidestar

Previous Stories
1

Client Served

Rating: 5

I am a diabetic and also have multiple sclerosis. I started having dangerous low blood sugars and I needed a diabetic alert dog that would alert me before my blood sugar went out of range, so I could take corrective action before a medical problem appeared.I did fundraising and raised 15K from my community supporters to purchase my diabetic alert dog from a traditional service dog organization. The dog I received at a weekend pickup meeting was unfortunately only very minimally trained, only 8 months old, did some alerting, but lacked many of the basic obedience and public access skills required for a service dog. I was badly in need of some help with my dog and am so grateful that Mary Cortani and Operation Freedom Paws took me under their wings in Jan 2015. In the past three months my dog improved greatly in her obedience and public access skills as well as alerting me. A big surprise and blessing to me was that I thought I was going to OFP to train my dog. I found out that my life improved as much as my dog's! Through working with OFP I have experienced the beginning of emotional healing from past trauma, as well as improved physical, mental and spiritual health. I am looking forward to the healing continuing for all.

Working with OFP has been the best thing that has ever happened to me and for that I will forever be eternally grateful!


Review from Guidestar

Janet34

Client Served

Rating: 5

I have been involved with Operation Freedom Paws since 2012. I was a volunteer, then a customer, then a client, then a staff member. I envisioned my retirement quite differently, but I am passionate about OFP , its methods, and its clients. Over 2 million dogs are euthanized in the US every year. Doctors are learning that service dogs can help with PTSD, traumatic brain injuries, diabetes, seizures, autism, allergen detection....the list is constantly growing. By using rescued dogs and teaching the client to train his/her own dog for his/her specific disabilities, OFP creates a healing bond that is hard to describe, but a joy to witness. I have my own service dog, a rescued pit bull whom I trained under OFP's guidance to help me with my life-threatening peanut allergy. On her own, she figured out how to help me with the anxiety that is part of a serious food allergy like mine, as well as with pain management from a 40-year old back injury. OFP has changed my life, and I've watched the lives of many other people change since 2012. I'm proud to give OFP a 5-star review.

Review from Guidestar

Previous Stories
2

Client Served

Rating: 5

My service dog and I continue to learn and grow with Operation Freedom Paws. She started out being trained as a peanut-alert dog to help me avoid reactions from my life-threatening allergy. But she learned also to alert me to back pain that I've dealt with for 40 years. She tells me to sit down and take a break before the pain gets so bad that I HAVE to stop. She learned this on her own, and it took me a while to recognize it. But her alerts really help keep me from overdoing and paying for it the next day!

I also am privileged as an OFP staff member to work with the veterans that OFP helps by teaching them to train their own service dogs to help with injuries like PTSD, brain injuries, mobility assistance, and hearing loss. It's incredibly rewarding to watch veterans and rescued dogs work diligently together, learning to become well-matched teams. In this program, dogs and people save each other, and the bonds they share are truly life-altering.

Review from Guidestar

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2

Client Served

Rating: 5

Excellent experience for us and our two malamutes! We work out of state and have to rely on referrals for dog boarding. A veterinary office, with exceptionally good reviews, highly recommended Operation Freedom Paws for boarding.

The employees were very welcoming, kind and extremely knowledgable about dogs and service animals (I am also a dog trainer). Our dogs were calm and stress-free as we were given the tour of their facility.

After initially calling around to find expensive and not-so-accommodating kennel arrangements, we were very happy that Operation Freedom Paws let our dogs stay together and play outdoors a lot. They have good boarding prices and lots of activity for dogs.

Our dogs looked happy and very comfortable with employees - and not in a hurry to leave the facility.

Thank you!

1

Client Served

Rating: 5

Operation Freedom Paws has changed our lives by providing the tools and support so that my husband can navigate his changed world. When you walk through their doors you feel as though you've found your second family. I have seen first hand the dedication, commitment and selfless giving that goes on by Mary and her crew every day - it is awesome and impactful.

2

Client Served

Rating: 5

Operation Freedom Paws is doing amazing work. As a civilian client, I have had the pleasure of training our family pet. During this time, I was able to witness the transformation of mind, body & spirit. Now as a longtime volunteer I have watched the program become a holistic model for the Veteran, their spouses and children. As the daughter of a Vietnam Veteran, I understand the impact of PTSD I know that OFP’s mission is changing and saving the lives every day.

3 Renatodato

Client Served

Rating: 5

Jack Kerouac once alluded to life as being more crucial in the "how" rather than the "why" we live our lives. Mary Cortani has solved this puzzle; that, the meaningfulness of life is what we impart to it; that, it is in the giving that one receives. In 2013, after more than 40 years, I made an appointment at the VA in Palo Alto. The doctors there determined that I had the classic symptoms of PTSD. Symptoms, I thought, were normal. Enter Operation Freedom Paws. Thanks to this fine organization and its staff of dedicated volunteers, I'm learning a new normal. All of a sudden, my focus and attention revolved around training and caring for my service dog. Distraction therapy? Brilliant, Mary Cortani! It has been 9 months of training and my life has undergone a palpable metamorphosis; a metamorphosis from the "why" to the "how" I live my life. Thank you, OFP, for saving my life.